There was a time - not very long ago - when students, labour, journalists and a representative segment of literary writers methodically worked together across Pakistan to realise their collective aspirations for a people-centred polity and a progressive society.

Their networks of organisations took different shapes and forms, corresponding to their immediate environment in diverse parts of the country and in reaction to martial rules and authoritarian civilian interludes. However, a country-wide coordination remained, with significant involvement from all parts of Pakistan.

Besides, there was a deep awareness of seeing all workers', nationalist and democratic rights movements within the country in the larger global perspective. It brought a sense of international solidarity among all struggling for their respective rights across Asia, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere. This consciousness of the global human condition also helped in humanising each struggle by making it more inclusive and tolerant.

The critical link between literature and the politics of these struggles thrived in those days. From Chile's Pablo Neruda, Turkey's Nazim Hikmet, Palestine's Mahmoud Darwish and India's Ali Sardar Jafri across the world, to Pakistan's Ghani Khan, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Gul Khan Naseer and Shaikh Ayaz, besides many others, there were stalwarts who infused a new spirit and romanticised the cause of oppressed classes and nations for political workers and rights campaigners.

It will be interesting to note that the radical poetry of women such as Kishwar Naheed and Fahmida Riaz predate the systematic struggle of women's rights waged in Pakistan. It was the poets who were the trailblazers.

Aakash Ansari, one of the finest Sindhi language poets today, comes from that time and belongs to that league. In 1954, when the provinces of then West Pakistan were merged into one unit - depriving each province of its identity and rights - in order to seek parity with the then more populous East Pakistan, a new consciousness emerged in Sindh.

Shaikh Ayaz was among those who led in shaping that consciousness. Along similar lines, Ansari is one of those who helped shape the consciousness during Gen Ziaul Haq's martial rule and chronicled the people's suffering during the Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD) in the 1980s.

Later, during Gen Pervez Musharraf's martial law, Ansari wrote scathing poetry to counter the official narrative. One poem, on judges who succumb...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT